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Tuesday, August 20, 2019 — Houston, TX 82°

Netflix hits a home run with ‘Sex Education’

Courtesy Netflix

By Amelia Calautti     1/22/19 9:17pm


Netflix’s show, “Sex Education,” is a must-see — just not with your parents. The raunchy British comedy-drama series covers all the bases in entertainment (ha, get it?) with laugh-out-loud scenes, heartfelt moments and, of course, tons of sex. 

The eight-episode series, which premiered Jan. 11, is set around the life of introverted 16-year-old Otis (Asa Butterfield). The son of a sex therapist, Otis is still a virgin but has accumulated years of sexual knowledge through listening in on his mom’s sessions. 

A wallflower at Moordale Secondary School, Otis spends most of his time with his best and only friend, Eric (Ncuti Gatwa), who is loudmouthed and bold but still equally uncool. While Eric attempts to steer the duo up the social hierarchy while exploring his own sexuality as an openly gay male, Otis prefers to stay in the shadows, knowing he is way behind his classmates (sexually and socially) but being okay with that. Yet when cool-girl Maeve (Emma Mackey), complete with a cigarette and nose ring, approaches Otis about starting an underground sex clinic, Otis is thrown into the spotlight, assisting his peers with intimacy issues ranging from masturbation to orgasming. 

While featuring plenty of scenes of teens “doing it,” “Sex Education” is far from your typical teen series comprised of horny kids lusting after each other. In fact, “Sex Education” breaks down barriers that those same shows set in place. Whereas the media often portrays teenagers as having extensive, superb sex lives, complete with romantic bedroom scenes and steamy shower rendezvous (I’m looking at you, “Riverdale”), “Sex Education” shows that not everyone is doing it, and those who are aren’t performing quite flawlessly either. As I watched the show alone in my room, headphones in and screen faced away from the door, I felt considerably uncomfortable watching naked bodies on my screen. Yet the discomfort I felt is exactly why we need more shows like “Sex Education;” it highlights that sex can be awkward or gross, and teenagers are just trying to figure it all out.

The series makes light of the confusing and often-embarrassing struggle of transitioning into adulthood, showcasing characters who, though the same age, are on vastly different stages of development. In addition to their wide range of sexual experience, the characters also come from diverse backgrounds — jock Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) is the adopted “golden boy” of a lesbian couple and Eric, who enjoys wearing makeup, is the son of Nigerian immigrants. And while some of the characters seem to have it all, they are soon revealed to be as flawed as everyone else, shown through outrageous scenes where popular girl Simone can’t give a blowjob without vomiting and where bully Adam overdoses on Viagra. Even Otis’ mother, a successful sex therapist and author, struggles with her personal flaws; she can solve everyone’s problems except her own — a fear of romantic commitment. 

“Sex Education” is an amazing revamp of cliché teen dramas but still maintains undertones of romance and high school stereotypes. With hilarious and gasp-worthy scenes, complex characters and multiple storylines, the show steers away from being boring or overly predictable. 

Most interestingly, the perplexing setting of the show suits its quirkiness and gives it a timeless feeling. Although the show takes place in the present day (shown through the mention of 21st century pop culture and use of smartphones), the characters dress in vintage fashion resembling the ‘90s while ‘80s hits fill the background, with Otis’ record player making many appearances. And although the show focuses on sex, the true message of the series isn’t about getting laid, but rather about navigating the wave of emotions that flood your teenage years. Who knew a covert sex clinic could be so metamorphic? 

“Sex Education” is streaming on Netflix.

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